If you’re looking to replace your existing roof, you might feel a bit overwhelmed by the number of options you have for the material alone: metal, asphalt shingles, slate, wood, clay, and more. Even narrowing down your choice to the two most popular roof materials — metal and asphalt shingles — probably leaves you with lots of questions about which roof material is more affordable and how they compare in terms of durability, the installation process, and more.
In this guide, we’ll explain the key differences between metal and shingle roofs so that you can decide which material is right for your home. We’ll also include information about how to choose between the two based on your budget, climate, preference, and more.
How Do Metal & Shingle Roof Materials Compare?
Metal and asphalt roofing differs in more than just material and installation costs. Below, we’ll include some information about how these two roof types compare in terms of lifespan, energy efficiency, weather resistance, and more.
The lifespan of your roof is a crucial factor to consider, not only because it tells you how long your roof will adequately protect your home but also because it affects the long-term cost of roof replacement.
Metal roofs tend to last for between 40 and 70 years, or around 55 years on average. This is far longer than an asphalt roof, which is expected to last for an average of 16 years, or between 12 and 20 years total.
Roof lifecycle is an important thing to consider when choosing between a metal and asphalt roof, as you might replace an asphalt roof three or four times in the same time you’d only need one metal roof installation. Metal roofs are more expensive to install, but over time, they tend to pay for themselves.
Metal roofing is more energy-efficient than asphalt roofing. The slick material will reflect more sunlight in the summer, which helps keep your home cool and reduces cooling costs. Metal shingles still remain good roof insulators in the winter, which can keep energy costs low through colder months as well. Estimates from energy experts put the potential energy savings for metal roofs at between 20 and 40% in the summer.
Not only is metal roofing less expensive in the long run, but it can also stand to provide energy savings that make it an even better option. The reduction in your energy bill can make metal roofing a better long-term investment.
Plus, metal roofing panels are recyclable, while asphalt shingles are not. As such, one of the benefits of metal roofing is that it won’t sit in landfills after it has exceeded its useful life. The recycled material can be used to create new roofing, gutters, and an endless variety of other home equipment.
Metal roofing is significantly lighter than asphalt shingles. In fact, metal is the lightest of the available roofing materials, which means virtually all structures will be eligible for and able to support a metal roof.
The disparity is even greater when you consider that asphalt roofs can be installed on top of one another for up to three layers. With metal roofing weighing about half of what asphalt roofing does, your metal roof could be about a sixth of the weight of an asphalt roof.
One major downside to metal roofing is how noisy it is during inclement weather. Rain and hail can be very loud on a metal roof, so you will likely hear heavy precipitation on it from inside your home. This can be a deterrent for some homeowners who enjoy a quiet and peaceful living area. Asphalt roofs aren’t nearly as noisy and are preferred for this reason by some property owners.
Weather Resistance (Snow, Hail, High Winds)
Generally speaking, metal roofs are a better fit to stand up to extreme weather. They can resist wind speeds of up to 150 mph, and they are also more conducive to letting snow slide off of them, which reduces the risk of heavy accumulations on your home. Asphalt roof shingles can stand up to some extreme weather as well, but metal roofs are more durable and resistant, so they’re preferable in areas with extreme climates.
The only downside to having a metal roof where extreme weather is common is that hail can dent it, and this isn’t an issue with asphalt roofs.
So, Which Roof Do We Think Has the Best Material?
Although they’re more expensive to install upfront, metal roofs are generally preferable to asphalt roofs. They last much longer — usually at least twice as long — can stand up to more severe weather, are better for energy efficiency, and they weigh less, so they put less strain on your structure. However, metal roofs can dent from hail or falling tree limbs, and they do lead to greater noise in your living area during rain or hail.
What Is the Pricing Differences Between Metal Roof & Shingles?
Generally speaking, asphalt shingle roofs will be less expensive upfront but will cost you more in the long run than metal roofs. There are quite a few cost factors to consider, which we’ll discuss briefly below, along with average costs for each.
For comprehensive breakdown on each roof type’s costs, read our separate metal roofing cost guide and shingle roof cost guide.
Average Material Costs
The material price for a metal roof depends on the metal you choose, but the most common types of metal roofs — steel roofs and aluminum roofs — range from $1.00 to $6.50 per square foot in most cases, with an average cost of around $3.50 per sq ft. For a standard 1,000-square-foot home, that’s a typical cost of $3,500 for the material alone or a typical range of $1,000 to $6,500.
An asphalt roof will average around $2.25 per square foot for the materials alone, with typical prices ranging from $1.75 up to around $3.25. For the same size home, that’s an average price of approximately $2,250, or a normal range from $1,750 to $3,250.
As you can see, the cost of asphalt roofing materials tends to be lower than metal roofing materials. However, the type of metal you choose and the type of asphalt shingles you select — 3-tab, dimensional, or high-end luxury shingles — can play a significant role in the overall pricing.
Labor & Installation Costs
Installing a metal roof is more of a specialized job, so you’re likely to have a slightly harder time finding an installer and will typically pay more for the labor.
The average cost to install a metal roof is about $8 per square foot. On a 1,000-square-foot home, the typical installation cost will be around $7,875, and your cost will fall between $4,500 and $11,250 in most cases.
The installation charges for an asphalt roof tend to be lower, with an average cost per square foot of $3.75, with most prices falling between $2.60 and $4.90. For a 1,000-square-foot house, you’re looking at installation costs of between $2,600 and $4,900, or an average of $3,750. It’s also possible to complete a DIY installation for an asphalt roof, although it’s best to leave the work to a professional roofing contractor.
Keep in mind that your pricing can be significantly higher if you need your installer to remove your existing roof first. Since the removal charges don’t typically change based on the type of roof you’re installing, we won’t include estimates for each. You can expect charges of between $2 and $5 per square foot for asphalt roof removal, which comes out to between $2,000 and $5,000 for a 1,000-sq-ft home.
Average Time to Install
Generally speaking, installing an asphalt roof will usually be slightly faster than installing a metal roof. The average timeline for the former is one to three days, while metal roofs can take up to a week to install and tend to take three to four days, on average.
Most roofing companies will charge you based on the square footage of the roof you’re installing, so the timeline only matters for your comfort and the safety of your home, especially as it pertains to the weather in your area.
Other Factors That Can Impact Cost
The price ranges for each roof style are so wide because there are several things that can affect your costs. We’ll include some information on each factor below.
The overall quality and durability of the product you’re installing can be a significant cost factor. Even roofing made from the same material can vary in durability and longevity across brands and installers.
Naturally, the type of material you’re installing will be a cost factor, but you might not know that it can sway your prices by thousands of dollars. For example, corrugated steel is the most affordable type of metal roof, and it can be about a sixth of the price of other metals per square foot. Asphalt shingles can also vary in price, with 3-tab shingles being less expensive than dimensional shingles (also called architectural shingles), which can be half the price of high-quality luxury shingles.
Larger roofs will need more material and more labor to install, so, of course, the overall cost will be higher. However, you might get a slightly lower per-square-foot price from some installers if you agree to more work overall. As such, larger roofs tend to be slightly less expensive per square foot than smaller roofs.
The pitch of your roof is a major factor in determining how safe it is for roofers to complete the job. Steep roof pitches might incur additional charges for extra safety equipment and slower working time due to the crew taking the necessary precautions.
Your roof installation cost will vary if you need your old roof removed and disposed of, as this can add an average of $3 to $5 per square foot. Charges could be higher if you need three layers of asphalt shingles removed as opposed to just one. As such, it’s important to know how old your roof is and how many layers it has before committing to a specific roof style.
So, Which Do We Think Is More Cost Effective?
Overall, installing an asphalt roof will be much cheaper than installing a metal roofing system. For a 1,000-square-foot home, an asphalt roof will average around $6,000, while the cost of a metal roof on the same home will average around $11,375 — excluding the cost of removing your old roof. Metal roofing is around twice as expensive but, as you’ll see in the next section, last longer and typically costs you less in the long run.
What Are Other Ways to Compare Metal & Shingle Roofs?
There are some other considerations to make when deciding if a metal or asphalt shingle roof is right for you. We’ll discuss some other important things to think about below.
Home Resale Value
Since metal roofs are superior to asphalt roofs in a variety of ways, they also tend to add more value to your home. Buyers who understand that metal roofing is more durable and energy efficient will tend to pay more for a home with that style of roof. It also provides them with the peace of mind that they won’t have to carry out a roof replacement for many years to come. With that being said, installing a new roof of any style is likely to add significant value to your home.
Repair & Roof Maintenance
Any style roof will need maintenance and repair from time to time, especially if you live in an area that is prone to extreme weather. Metal roofs are not only more durable, but they’re also more resistant to damage and leaking. As such, installing a new metal roof will tend to lead to low maintenance or a maintenance-free roof and greater peace of mind that you won’t run into any issues.
Aesthetics & Design Differences
Finally, metal roofs and asphalt shingles differ in their appearance, curb appeal, and the designs available. Which is more appealing is really a matter of personal preference, which is sometimes informed by your location.
Metal roofs can be corrugated or standing seam, or they can consist of metal panels or shingles. They come in a variety of designs, patterns, and colors, so there is plenty of room for customization. Just keep in mind that the differences in material and labor costs among styles — like an exposed fastener corrugated metal roof and a standing seam metal roof — can vary quite a lot.
Asphalt roofing products come in a variety of colors and shingle shapes, which allows for slightly less customization, but most homeowners looking for an asphalt roof will be able to find a design option that works well for them and their residential roofing project.
So, Is it Better to Have a Metal Roof or Shingles?
Ultimately, the answer to this question is up to you. Both options are suitable for just about any area and climate, but there are some key differences to be aware of before you choose.
Asphalt roofs are far cheaper to install, averaging around $6,000 for a 1,000-square-foot home, which includes materials and labor. A metal roof can range quite a bit based on the metal used and the design, but the typical price for a 1,000-sq-ft home is around $11,375. However, asphalt roofing needs to be replaced every 12 to 20 years, while a metal roof can last from 40 to 70 years. A metal roof might be more expensive up front, but it will almost always save you money in the long run.
Metal roofs also stand up to extreme weather better and are more resistant to leaks and severe damage. However, they can get dented by hail or flying debris, which isn’t an issue for shingle roofs. Additionally, metal roofs create more noise during rain and hail, which is a deterrent for some homeowners.
The bottom line is that both roof options have their pros and cons, so you’ll need to weigh these against each other and decide which is best for your budget, your climate, and your personal preference.